World’s most innovative country clocks Agetech

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The UN rated Switzerland the most innovative country in the world and coupled with its high life expectancy, it’s no wonder that Agetech is high on its agenda.

Longevity.Technology: As we start 2020, Longevity.Technology is looking back over some of the Longevity developments up to now and considering what’s next. We previously covered how Switzerland plans to be the new European Longevity hotspot and now with news of its number one ranking from the UN we take a look at some of the key players and developments in Longevity.

The Longevity Swiss Foundation, a Geneva-based non-profit and think-tank is aiming to turn Switzerland into a world-leading Longevity hub, calling it a new a ‘Longevity Valley’. Dmitry Kaminskiy, co-founder of the Longevity Swiss Foundation and general partner at Deep Knowledge Ventures, said: “Switzerland has a long-standing reputation as a hub for both international policy and the financial industry. The nation has extremely strong potential to leverage these existing assets in order to become the leading European hotspot for the rising Longevity financial industry.”

Sergey Young, Longevity investor and founder of the Longevity Vision Fund agrees: “The Swiss banking sector also shows a healthy interest in Longevity from an investment perspective.”

Switzerland already has a more switched-on attitude to healthcare and the oncoming ‘silver tsunami’ than most countries; compared with other European countries, Switzerland spends the highest percentage of GDP on healthcare (11.4%) and health insurance, albeit basic, is mandatory.

Although cantons organise healthcare individually, co-operation and common policies are promoted throughout the county. Co-ordinated care means a more uniform approach and better results and Spitex, a nationwide organisation, is one of the key companies providing support, health care and nursing outside hospitals and nursing homes.

CleverCare, in association with Spitex, is developing a digital platform that will enable co-ordination and communication between care staff and recipients. They are expected to launch the product early this year.

There are wearable tech developments as well; CARU has designed an intuitive smart device that is packed with sensors. Using its €2.4m in seed funding, the “digital flatmate” is suitable for care-home residents as well as those living independently. Voice-activated, it can contact professionals or family members and its on-board smart sensors monitor wellness and flag-up any deviations from learned typical behaviour.

Longevity Technology Caru
Caru, the digital flatmate for older adults (image credit: Caru)

DomoSafety collects, correlates and analyses, in real time, data from both behavioural daily activities and medical devices. Data from multiple sources is aggregated and passed to healthcare professionals who can then deliver preventive and proactive services to their patients. Boasting over 225,000 days of analysed data, the self-learning technology allows medical detection from a distance, as well as monitoring for chronic diseases and abnormal behaviour.

Big Pharma Swiss multinational Novartis has several Longevity irons in the fire; from collaborating with Amazon Web Service to improve medicine manufacture and delivery, to developing drugs that will treat diseases related to immunosenescence and from improving the health and Longevity of transplanted organs by treating them with an experimental compound called iscalimab to identifying biomarkers for resistance to Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, Novartis are throwing considerable weight behind anti-aging research.

Swiss company Amazentis, in conjunction with the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics has discovered that a substance originating fruits, especially pomegranates, Urolithin A, can have a beneficial effect on mitochondrial function which results in the slowing of certain aging processes. Nestlé Health Science has announced it is going into partnership with Amazentis to develop off-the-shelf products containing Urolithin A.

Prexton Therapeutics is a Swiss company developing innovative drugs to improve the quality of life of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders. Designing new metabotropic glutamate receptor mGluR4 compounds they hope to slow, or even arrest, the progress of these debilitating diseases.

Swiss company Roche, another Big Pharma, is developing personalised healthcare and genomics by providing comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP), a specific type of genomic testing. CGP is able to provide a more detailed picture of a cancer tumour by looking for multiple mutations in a large number of cancer-related genes and allow clinicians to provide targeted treatments that are specific to the patient and much more likely to succeed.

GenomSys develops technology that allows fast and efficient processing and sharing of DNA data. This in turn enables large scale use of DNA data for diagnostics, pharmacogenomics and personalised genomic medicine. Series A funding raised CHF9.3M last year.

As Margaretta Colangelo, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Deep Knowledge Ventures and Longevity Capital, said: “Switzerland is one of the most longevity progressive countries in the world … [that] has the potential to be a world leader in both the Global Longevity Industry and the 4th Industrial Revolution … Switzerland is in an excellent position to retain its leading position by focusing on the optimal assembly of its existing resources to transform the challenge of demographic aging into a national asset [3].”

[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/07/1043151
[2] http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/switzerland/
[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/cognitiveworld/2019/12/07/ai-will-drive-the-multi-trillion-dollar-longevity-economy

Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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